The Government Shutdown: Who it affects

The government has closed, and 800,000 federal employees are out of work. To most people, this is compelling and disturbing. At the very least, it is worth discussing.

Many political figures (some in office, some in the media) have been spewing the argument that the government shutdown is “not really that big of a deal.” Typically this comes in the same breath as the statement “I haven’t felt any effects.” Rather than identify these individuals as the ignorant fools they are (John Stewart does a pretty good job, if you’re interested),  I think it is more important to identify some of the people this government shutdown DOES affect. If you are somehow not compelled by the loss of 800,000 jobs, then I urge you to read on. This is about a lot more than jobs.

People affected by the shutdown: People dying of cancer.

Clinical trials are on hold. (Photo: Al Jazeera America)

Clinical trials are on hold. (Photo: Al Jazeera America)

Watch the report from Al Jazeera America here.

People affected by the shutdown: Native American Tribes.

Native american tribes

The federal government plays a critical role for the 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the 566 federally recognized tribes, providing key services that include health care, schools, social programs and law enforcement protection, all supported by its long-standing treaty obligations made with Native Americans.

Some essential services will continue during the shutdown, such as law enforcement and firefighting, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And the 176 Indian Health Service hospitals and clinics will stay open.

But the shutdown means freezes have already been placed on nutrition programs, foster care payments, financial assistance for the poor and anti-elder-abuse programs. Some tribes risk losing all their income in timber operations if federal employees aren’t there. Vital contracts and grants will be stalled.

Read the rest of the article here.

People affected by the shutdown: Hard-working parents who rely on early educational programs. Not to mention their children.

Head start

Watch the video here. If you only watch one, pick this one.

People affected by the shutdown: Victims of Colorado flooding.

A road destroyed by flooding. (Photo: LA Times)

A road destroyed by flooding. (Photo: LA Times)

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday morning he authorized the use of state money to pay Colorado National Guard troops so they can continue with flood recovery. Under the shutdown they would not be paid, according to the governor’s office.

“We can’t afford to lose one day in rebuilding areas destroyed or damaged by the floods,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “Our National Guard troops are an invaluable part of the team working on the recovery. We need them to stay on the job.”

Read the rest of the article here.

People affected by the shutdown: Pretty much everyone in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico

A protracted shutdown of the U.S. government would hurt many states but would have an outsized impact on the debt-ridden territory of Puerto Rico, where federal funding provides nearly 40 percent of all government revenue, economists said on Tuesday.

Read the full Reuters article here.

People affected by the shutdown:  70% of people employed by, protected by, and in love with The CIA, the NSA, the DIA.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he has tried to keep on enough employees to guard against potential threats, but may have to call more back if the shutdown continues. (Photo: Reuters)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he has tried to keep on enough employees to guard against potential threats, but may have to call more back if the shutdown continues. (Photo: Reuters)

Some politicians ignorantly trivialize the shutdown as a “cutback on welfare.” Either they are wrong, or the CIA is a welfare program. Read the full article here.

People affected by the shutdown: Low-income mothers trying to feed their children.

WIC

About 9 million Americans are enrolled in WIC, which is limited to low-income pregnant, postpartum or breast-feeding mothers, infants, and children under 5 who are at nutritional risk.

WIC is a $7 billion-a-year program that provides low-income mothers across the country with food vouchers — for specific items such as baby formula, milk, bread, cheese, fruit and peanut butter — as well as nutrition and breast-feeding counseling, and health care referrals. It is widely regarded as a successful, cost-effective social program that prevents nutrition-related health problems like anemia, low birth weight, preterm births, fetal mortality, and childhood obesity and diabetes.

The program falls under the USDA, whose website went offline shortly after the shutdown. But a Contingency and Reconstitution Plan, released by the USDA last week, stated: “No additional federal funds would be available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)’s clinical services, food benefits and administrative costs.”

About 9 million Americans are enrolled in WIC, which is limited to low-income pregnant, postpartum or breast-feeding mothers, infants, and children under 5 who are at nutritional risk.

Read the rest of the article here.

It doesn’t matter if you are Republican, Democrat, a Tea-Partier, or confused. We can all begin to establish some common ground by ridiculing and criticizing the fools who claim this shutdown “doesn’t really affect people.” This shutdown is a symptom of deeply-entrenched, systematic injustice. Let’s not further perpetrate evil by ignoring our neighbors who are suffering as a result.

Thanks for reading. Spread the word.

Westin

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